MnDOT Taking Pictures of Carpool Lane Cheaters

November 04, 2017 09:27 AM

The Minnesota Department of Transportation is going high-tech in an effort to catch cheaters in carpool lanes.

The only people supposed to be in those lanes are single drivers who pay a fee for a MnPASS tag - or people actually carpooling.


Which hasn't stopped others.

That's why MnDOT began a test in July. It installed an infrared camera to watch the northbound carpool lanes on Interstate 35W at Black Dog Road in Burnsville.

The camera can tell if a car has a MnPASS tag. It also detects heat. That's how it can tell how many people are in individual cars.

Here's your chance to let MnDOT know your thoughts on infrared cameras.  You can send an email or video clip to Commissioner of Transportation Charlie Zelle.

The cameras don't automatically issue tickets. But the pictures are used by troopers to catch people driving illegally.

"After it snaps the image, there is a trooper stationed downstream," Bobbie Dahlke of MnDOT said.

"And they'll shoot that image to the trooper. And the trooper will know there is a car approaching that does not have a tag. The cameras are not set up to issue citations; they are there to assist the State Patrol."

Dahlke said the cameras do not capture license plate numbers or kinds of cars, just pictures of who is in the car.  

And the images aren't archived.

She said right now MnDOT is seeing violation rates of anywhere from 10 to 20 percent on the three main traffic corridors in the Twin Cities that have car pool lanes.

After more testing this winter, MnDOT will determine whether or not they'll put more cameras on other MnPASS lanes.

The fine for illegally using the car pool lane can cost you up to $300.


Kevin Doran

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